Original Research

How can a 6-week training course shape mental healthcare professionals’ understanding of mindfulness? Experiences at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital

Nathalie H. Petersen, Gerhard Grobler
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 27 | a1489 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v27i0.1489 | © 2021 Nathalie H. Negus, Gerhard Grobler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 November 2019 | Published: 23 March 2021

About the author(s)

Nathalie H. Petersen, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Gerhard Grobler, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Mindfulness-based practice has gained increasing attention in the mental health community over the last four decades, and many studies have explored the evidence of its various benefits among healthcare users and providers alike. However, there remains limited research regarding the understanding of mindfulness among mental healthcare professionals. This poses the question: how much do mental healthcare professionals really know about mindfulness, and can self-practice increase the understanding of these providers?

Aim: This descriptive or exploratory case study aimed to explore the understanding of mindfulness amongst 15 mental healthcare professionals.

Setting: The study took place at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital.

Method: The study was conducted following a 6-week training course in which the participants were taught, and carried out mindfulness-based practices and techniques. The study also explored the following: (1) the healthcare workers’ experiences, benefits and challenges regarding the consistent practice of mindfulness and (2) their confidence when explaining the concept of mindfulness, and the practices learned, to other colleagues and patients. Data were collected in the form of semi-structured interviews with the participants, 4–6 weeks after completion of the training course.

Results: Three main themes were identified: (1) understanding of mindfulness expanded with practice; (2) unexpected experiences during the mindfulness course; and (3) experience caused partial gains in confidence and skills. Overall, 15 subthemes were derived from the data collected.

Conclusion: Self-practice of mindfulness can increase one’s understanding of the concept and the confidence to teach informal techniques. More research is needed to determine how the design and duration of such training could impact this understanding and confidence.


healthcare workers; mindfulness; skills; training; Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital


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Crossref Citations

1. Exploring the lived experiences of participants and facilitators of an online mindfulness program during COVID-19: a phenomenological study
Ashley Melvin, Christopher Canning, Fariha Chowdhury, Sarah Hunter, Soyeon Kim
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doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1278725